After getting my UFC fix with The Ultimate Fighter and Fight Night 19 on Wednesday night, I had a difficult choice to make. On one hand, I could spend Saturday night watching Floyd Mayweather, the most purely talented boxer alive, ply his trade. On the other, I could see a much more meaningful UFC card and catch the return of Vitor Belfort (in addition to giving myself something to write about this week). Choices, choices!
But actually, I punted. I spent the weekend away from the television, enjoying a beach wedding in South Carolina. Worked on my tan (nonexistent). Drank on the beach (girly boat drinks). Soaked up the surf (got sand in my board shorts).
DT’s Law Of Boat Drinks: Never drink anything more colorful than your shirt. Thing is, I only own Hawaiian shirts.
Well, apparently the fight game needs me around, because when I got back and tried to absorb every bit of information about UFC 103 that I could, I noted the show continued a disturbing pattern from Wednesday night. It seemed like people had lost far more than they gained, and in some cases, had out-and-out screwed up.
Oops, Rich Franklin! I get it. Rich Franklin has been the loyal soldier for the UFC for quite some time. He’s the Silvio to Dana’s Tony Soprano. But it’s about time for Rich, after getting knocked out in the first round by Vitor Belfort, to start putting his career first. Right now, he’s a man without a country: too big for middleweight, but too past-his-prime to compete in the stacked light heavyweight division. Being “the 195 gatekeeper” is not the legacy he wants for his career. He’s too good a guy to be the fighter that leaves fans saying “Couldn’t they schedule anything better than another Franklin main event?” He’s earned the right to call his shots with Joe Silva; get himself an undercard tuneup or two at the weight division he wants and start a serious run towards a belt… or get a big money fight or two then hang ‘em up. Frankly, if he can’t hang with Belfort, I’m starting to think he should choose the latter.
Belfort, meanwhile, was impressive in his return, but I stand by my initial assessment: he’s not going to be able to get his hands on the Spider, who should be able to dance around him like he did to Forrest Griffin.
Oops, Mirko Cro Cop! At least Franklin’s not done, as likely is the once-promising career of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Beaten soundly by Junior Dos Santos, he’s 35 and has given a series of quotes that make it sound like he’s worn out and has lost his will to compete. Mirko is 4-3 with 1 NC since he first signed with the UFC and hasn’t seemed particularly focused in the ring since Gabriel Gonzaga kicked his lights out back in ’07. While Minotauro Nogueira recently recaptured his PRIDE glory, it looks like Cro Cop never will.
Meanwhile, Frank Trigg looks to be another name fighter joining him on the golf course after getting stopped in the first round of a prelim fight by Josh Koscheck. (Aside: Do fighters go to the golf course after they retire? I’d research the answer to this question, but I can’t help but think the answers would just depress me. I like to think fighters retire to the golf course in the same way puppies go to puppy heaven.) At the very least, Trigg can fall back on his commentary work.
Oops, Martin Kampmann! Initially scheduled for a top contender’s match against Mike Swick before Swick went down with a late head injury in training, Kampmann instead drew Paul “Semtex” Daley… and Daley promptly gave him more than he could handle, ending his night in the first round. While Kampmann might have earned a shot against Georges St.-Pierre with a win, Daley instead stole his thunder and will likely be the next challenger for Swick.
What’s next in the welterweight division? At Fight Night 19, Carlos Condit was supposed to be up-and-coming but he was only able to barely eke out a split decision against Jake Ellenberger, who gave him all he could handle in his UFC debut. GSP is left without a viable challenger; it could be Swick but do we really want to wait for him to get a fight in against Daley before Rush steps back into the cage? At this rate, it could be a long time before we figure out how the UFC’s 170 lb. division will shake out.
Oops, Rampage Jackson! Oh, Rampage. I love you dearly; you’re making TUF 10 single-handedly watchable with your ridiculous witticisms. But what a thoroughly awful week you’ve given us. First it was confirmed that he’d be postponing his match against Rashad Evans to go play B.A. Baracus in the A-Team movie, thus screwing over Evans, wrecking much of the promotional work TUF is doing, and thoroughly stoking the ire of Dana White.
Then, on the season’s first episode, Jackson made a couple of questionable drafting choices for his team, jumping ALL over the unproven project that is Kimbo Slice while leaving odds-on favorite and former IFL champion Roy Nelson to go much later to Team Rashad. (It appears that Rampage is turned off by man boobs. Who knew?)
Capping it off, when given the chance to pick the matchup for his team, he chose wrestling-inept Abe Wagner to go against star grappler Jon Madsen. A number of easy takedowns and ground/pound later, it was a bloodbath. We’re talking “stuck pig in a teenage slasher movie being trapped in a Sharpshooter” levels of gore here. Madsen, while not looking particularly good, still skipped to a unanimous decision that saw Wagner on the wrong side of 10-8 on 4 of a possible 6 card-rounds. You screwed up, Quinton. You screwed up but good.
Oops, UFC Production Team! While I was putting my face under the margarita machine and opening the spigot, it appears that those who were “treated” to the UFC 103 undercard free on Spike got buggy sound, weird loops, and a number of production glitches for their trouble. If you’re going to aggressively counter-promote boxing by giving fans a free taste of what they’ll get on PPV, it helps if the free taste actually looks, you know, professional.
Frankly, I’m starting to wonder if the UFC’s production couldn’t use an overhaul in general. It seems like they’ve been using the same graphics, bumps, songs, etc. forever. If MMA has truly turned a corner, maybe the occasional yearly production boost (a la Monday Night Football) would give things a fresh coat of paint.
Oops, SPF 30 next time. I’m gonna go tend to my sunburn. Back later this week for a little more FightNoob.